Modern-day mix tape?
October 19, 2007 12:45 PM   Subscribe

In this era of mp3s and mp3 players, what's the equivalent of a mix tape?

I like making mix CDs, but everyone I know listens to their music on mp3 players. If I burn a CD for them, then the track order and track data is lost. If I give them a CD of mp3s, the track order is completely lost and they have to reassemble all the songs themselves. How best to recreate the mix tape experience most closely? Preferably in a way that doesn't require me to do something too technical or kludgy? I might add: I'm an iTunes user, as is the bulk of my intended mix CD recipients.

I have read this thread but there doesn't seem to be a real concrete answer. Also, the thread is from two years ago -- perhaps a solution has presented itself since then...?
posted by tangelo to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
howabout a playlist copied onto a small USB flash drive?

Little flash drives aren't a cheap as blank CDs, but they're getting close.
posted by briank at 12:48 PM on October 19, 2007

couldnt you just burn a cd of mp3s along with a playlist file that they can load to reassemble the tracks into the right order?
posted by white light at 12:49 PM on October 19, 2007

iTunes does it by prefixing a track number to the beginning of each mp file. see here.

or, you can do an iMix.
posted by badstone at 12:51 PM on October 19, 2007

also, this is what m3u files are for.
posted by badstone at 12:52 PM on October 19, 2007

I don't use iTunes, but this is what I would do.

Assemble mixtape in it's own folder, using COPIES of the files so you don't mess with your originals.

Open the folder in something like Tag & Rename and manually edit the tags to reflect my desired track numbers, give them all the same album tag (utsutsu's dance mix '93 :p) and maybe even the same Artists tag.

After this, I would probably also rename the files so the name begins with the track numbers, for us non itunesy folk. You could also create a playlist and include that in the folder as well.

Burn the folder to a CD and gift away. If the person just plays in something like winamp... no problems! If the person imports to iTunes, it should import as a single album with your track numbers preserved (This is assuming iTunes won't try and figure out what cd it is and retag stuff for you, maybe someone else can comment on if this will happen).

If this qualifies as too technical or kludgy I apologize. Maybe someone else has a more straight forward approach.
posted by utsutsu at 12:53 PM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you really wanted to get the feel of an old mix tape, you could put the songs in order on one MP3.
posted by drezdn at 12:58 PM on October 19, 2007

IMO, don't bother burning the CD. Just zip up the folder and upload it to something like

That's what my fiancee does when he's feeling romantic and all the way over in NYC.
posted by lannanh at 1:00 PM on October 19, 2007

I do something similar to utsutsu...I assemble a playlist in iTunes, less than 80m (for CD length, in case I want to burn it). I copy all those files to a folder on another drive, and then re-import them to iTunes. Using the copied files, I give them a new album name & what-not, and then copy that folder to a thumb drive. When the recipient imports the folder on the thumb drive, the mix will appear as a new album.

The key is to work on copies of your tracks, not the tracks themselves.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 1:21 PM on October 19, 2007

Go to iTunes > Preferences > Advanced > Burning and set the Disc Format to Data CD.

When they put the CD in their computer, it will show up in iTunes formatted exactly like your original playlist.
posted by designbot at 1:26 PM on October 19, 2007

This is an mp3 mix tape.
posted by god hates math at 1:27 PM on October 19, 2007 [5 favorites]

(In case you didn't know, you can also print snazzy jewel case art from iTunes by selecting your playlist and selecting Print… from the File menu.)
posted by designbot at 1:29 PM on October 19, 2007

just make a good old fashioned mixtape, and then buy them a walk-man to go with it.
posted by brooklynexperiment at 1:38 PM on October 19, 2007

If you want to streamline the approach that utsutsu and Banky_Edwards are suggesting, then you can use a batch renamer to rename all the exported files. Irfanview, besides being a great picture viewer, has a great batch rename function. Just drag the files to the renamer window, get 'em in order, and tell Irfanview to add a two-digit number to the front of each file-name: in the "Name Pattern" field, type "## - $", and away you go.

I used to do this when I made mix cds, just to keep things nice and tidy so I didn't screw up the order.
posted by averyoldworld at 1:42 PM on October 19, 2007

It depends on your definition of mix tape.

If you mean a collection of interesting songs stuck on a medium that you think someone will like, then the above posts covered it.

Create a playlist, export the files, retag / name them so they reimport as part of a playlist again in someone elses audio player of choice, and then send them the files.

Others, more elitist mix tape afficianados (such as one of my old roommates), use products such as Roxio Jam (on a mac), so you can time cross fades between songs, having melodies overlap, etc. which is something you could do with a mix tape that doesn't carry over with a simple playlist of songs. It also takes a lot more time (but less than the fingers poised over the play/pause and record buttons on your dual cassette deck) but really makes the end product a unique and special.

You can either burn the result, reimport and custom label the cd in itunes, or save each mp3 and add it back to itunes (i create a new playlist I drop it into directly, incase some track information remained from the editing process I wont loose it in my library as a duplicate of the orignal).

Either way should tag it properly as a "new" album (by using the Get Info feature of itunes to edit the artist / year / album/ track number, etc), and create a folder in iTunes/iTunes Music/Your Name/Your Mix Name/,

I believe you use the convert ID3 tags in the advanced menu (can't confirm on this computer) to make sure all your files in your library have their new information written to them, not just kept in the database.

Compress the "your mix name" and send away, it will be embedded with your track numbering and names, and then show up in your friends itunes as "your mix name" in the albums folder.
posted by mrzarquon at 2:19 PM on October 19, 2007

There's really no need to get into complicated batch renaming or anything. If you burn a data CD in iTunes, it will automatically add numbers in front of the filenames to keep the songs in order.
posted by designbot at 2:22 PM on October 19, 2007

You can play Russian Roullette with your friends - put your mp3 player on shuffle with your favorite music on there but add one Britney Spears song on there.
posted by philad at 5:02 PM on October 19, 2007

My modern equivalent of a mix take is giving a cheap (pre-loaded, pre-charged, flash-based) mp3 player. The mix-tape now plays itself, right out of the box.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:20 PM on October 19, 2007

when is the next mefi swap??
posted by seawallrunner at 8:06 PM on October 19, 2007

I still go with CD for my mixes. Most cars still don't have MP3 players in them.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:20 AM on October 20, 2007

With one huge mp3, you:
1. can do crossfades, tempo changes, snippets of longer songs, and zany sound effects
2. feel more like a 'hip dj'
3. don't have to worry about songs getting out of order
4. dont have to clutter up the recipient's library with another copy of hit me baby one more time
5. will annoy a handful of your friends
6. can provide a .cue file for burning to cd with tracks
7. can break the big mp3 into smaller mp3's, to emulate 3 song 'rock blocks' or side A and side B.
8. can't just skip a track - if you don't want to listen to a song, you have to fast forward like a mix tape.
Extra bonus points for calling it 'dj tangelo's Fall 2007 party dance mix 2 point 0'.
posted by enfa at 7:43 AM on October 20, 2007 [2 favorites]

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